School & District Management

Two School Board Races Worth Watching

By Christina A. Samuels — November 07, 2011 2 min read
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Election day is Tuesday, and there’s a few school board races around the country that are worth paying attention to:

Wake County, N.C.: This school board did away with a diversity-based busing plan a year ago when the board majority were Republicans, and is now split four to four between Republicans and Democrats after local elections held Oct. 11. Tuesday’s race, a runoff between Democratic incumbent Kevin Hill and Republican challenger Heather Losurdo, will determine if there is a shift in the board majority or if more conservative-leaning members will maintain control. The runoff is necessary because Hill did not get 50 percent of the vote; instead, he received 49.7 percent in what was a four-person field. Losurdo received 39.9 percent.

The Losurdo campaign has set a record for campaign contributions, according to the News and Observer newspaper. As of Oct. 24, she had raised $82,357, compared to $42,748 for Hill. Groups outside of Hill’s campaign have also been running their own ads and sending out mailings attacking Losurdo.

The contributions for all of the races for Wake County School Board, including the ones that were decided back in October, are expected to easily top $500,000, the newspaper says.

Eden Prairie, Minn:A month ago, I wrote about a contentious boundary change decision in this 9,700-student district that echoes those going on in suburban districts around the country.

The high-achieving district outside of Minneapolis has a growing number of students whose parents are immigrants from Somalia. Rather than have most of those students clustered at one school, which is near a pocket of affordable housing, the district redrew boundaries to rebalance the population and ensure that each of its elementary schools had no more than 25 percent of its students eligible for free-or-reduced-price lunches.

The move roiled some members of the community, which packed public hearings. Opponents of the boundary plan said they were called racists; supporters were accused of engaging in “social engineering.”

Once the school year started, some of the loudest protests quieted. But Tuesday will be the first chance that Eden Prairie residents will have to show just how upset—or content—they are with the changes. Eight candidates are vying for four open seats. One strong supporter of the boundary changes, Kim Ross, is up for re-election. John Estall and Holly Parker, two board members who opposed the boundary decision, are also running again.

Are there other races that we should be paying attention to? Let me know in the comments.

A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.